The decision to do this rather than build my own was complicated, and I'm going to mostly skip over the detail of that. At some time I might put it in another blog post. But for now it's enough to say that I'd accidentally cooked the motor in my Mark I, the work on the Mark II was going to take ages, and I was in the relatively fortunate situation of being able to afford the Experia if I sold my existing Triumph Tiger Sport and the parts for the Mark II.
For other complicated reasons I was planning to be in Sydney after the weekend that Bruce at Zen Motorcycles told me the bike would be arriving. Rather than have it freighted down, and since I would have room for my riding gear in our car, I decided to pick it up and ride it back on the Monday. In reconnoitering the route, we discovered that by pure coincidence Zen Motorcycles is on Euston Road in Alexandria, only 200 metres away from the entrance to WestConnex and the M8. So with one traffic light I could be out of Sydney.
I will admit to being more than a little excited that morning. Electric vehicles are still, in 2023, a rare enough commodity that waiting lists can be months long; I ordered this bike in October 2022 and it arrived in March 2023. So I'd had plenty of time to build my expectations. And likewise the thought of riding a brand new bike - literally one of the first of its kind in the country (it is the thirty-second Experia ever made!) - was a little daunting. I obtained PDF copies of the manual and familiarised myself with turning the cruise control on and off, as well as checking and setting the regen braking levels. Didn't want to stuff anything up on the way home.
There is that weird feeling in those situations of things being both very ordinary and completely unique. I met Bruce, we chatted, I saw the other Experia models in the store, met Ed - who had come down to chat with Bruce, and just happened to be the guy who rode a Harley Davidson Livewire from Perth to Sydney and then from Sydney to Cape Tribulation and back. He shared stories from his trip and tips on hypermiling. I signed paperwork, picked up the keys, put on my gear, prepared myself.
Even now I still get a bit choked up just thinking of that moment. Seeing that bike there, physically real, in front of me - after those months of anticipation - made the excitement real as well.
So finally, after making sure I wasn't floating, and making sure I had my ear plugs in and helmet on the right way round, I got on. Felt the bike's weight. Turned it on. Prepared myself. Took off. My partner followed behind, through the lights, onto the M8 toward Canberra. I gave her the thumbs up.
We planned to stop for lunch at Mittagong, while the NRMA still offers the free charger at the RSL there. One lady was charging her Nissan Leaf on the ChaDeMo side; shortly after I plugged in a guy arrived in his Volvo XC40 Recharge. He had the bigger battery and would take longer; I just needed a ten minute top up to get me to Marulan.
I got to Marulan and plugged in; a guy came thinking he needed to tell the petrol motorbike not to park in the electric vehicle bay, but then realised that the plug was going into my bike. Kate headed off, having charged up as well, and I waited another ten minutes or so to get a bit more charge. Then I rode back.
I stopped, only once more - at Mac's Reef Road. I turned off and did a U turn, then waited for the traffic to clear before trying the bike's acceleration. Believe me when I say this bike will absolutely do a 0-100km/hr in under four seconds! It is not a light bike, but when you pull on the power it gets up and goes.
Here is my basic review, given that experience and then having ridden it for about ten weeks around town.
The absolute best feature of the Energica Experia is that it is perfectly comfortable riding around town. Ease on the throttle and it gently takes off at the traffic lights and keeps pace with the traffic. Ease off, and it gently comes to rest with regenerative braking and a light touch on the rear brake after stopping to hold it still. If you want to take off faster, wind the throttle on more. It is not temperamental or twitchy, and you have no annoying gears and clutch to balance.
In fact, I feel much more confident lane filtering, because before I would have to have the clutch ready and be prepared to give the Tiger Sport lots of throttle lest I accidentally stall it in front of an irate line of traffic. With the Experia, I can simply wait peacefully - using no power - and then when the light goes green I simply twist on the throttle and I am away ahead of even the most aggressive car driver.
It is amazingly empowering.
I'm not going to bore you with the stats - you can probably look them up yourself if you care. The main thing to me is that it has DC fast charging, and watching 75KW go into a 22.5KWHr battery is just a little bit terrifying as well as incredibly cool. The stated range of 250km on a charge at highway speeds is absolutely correct, from my experience riding it down from Sydney. And that plus the fast charging means that I think it is going to be quite reasonable to tour on this bike, stopping off at fast or even mid-level chargers - even a boring 22KW charger can fill the battery up in an hour. The touring group I travel with stops often enough that if those stops can be top ups, I will not hold anyone up.
Some time in the near future I hope to have a nice fine day where I can take it out on the Cotter Loop. This is an 80km stretch of road that goes west of Canberra into the foothills of the Brindabella Ranges, out past the Deep Space Tracking Station and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. It's a great combination of curving country roads and hilly terrain, and reasonably well maintained as well. I did that on the Tiger Sport, with a GoPro, before I sold it - and if I can ever convince PiTiVi to actually compile the video from it I will put that hour's ride up on a platform somewhere.
I want to do that as much to show off Canberra's scenery as to show off the bike.
And if the CATL battery capacity improvement comes through to the rest of the industry, and we get bikes that can do 400km to 500km on a charge, then electric motorbike touring really will be no different to petrol motorbike touring. The Experia is definitely at the forefront of that change, but it is definitely possible on this bike.
All posts licensed under the CC-BY-NC license. Author Paul Wayper.